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_chdir, _wchdir

Changes the current working directory.


int _chdir(
   const char *dirname
int _wchdir(
   const wchar_t *dirname


Path of new working directory.

Return value

These functions return a value of 0 if successful. A return value of -1 indicates failure. If the specified path couldn't be found, errno is set to ENOENT. If dirname is NULL, the invalid parameter handler is invoked, as described in Parameter validation. If execution is allowed to continue, errno is set to EINVAL and the function returns -1.


The _chdir function changes the current working directory to the directory specified by dirname. The dirname parameter must refer to an existing directory. This function can change the current working directory on any drive. If a new drive letter is specified in dirname, the default drive letter is changed as well. For example, assume A is the default drive letter and \BIN is the current working directory. The following call changes the current working directory for drive C to \temp and establishes C as the new default drive:


When you use the optional backslash character (\) in paths, you must place two backslashes (\\) in a C string literal to represent a single backslash (\).

_wchdir is a wide-character version of _chdir; the dirname argument to _wchdir is a wide-character string. _wchdir and _chdir behave identically otherwise.

By default, this function's global state is scoped to the application. To change this behavior, see Global state in the CRT.

Generic-text routine mapping

Tchar.h routine _UNICODE and _MBCS not defined _MBCS defined _UNICODE defined
_tchdir _chdir _chdir _wchdir


Routine Required header Optional header
_chdir <direct.h> <errno.h>
_wchdir <direct.h> or <wchar.h> <errno.h>

For more compatibility information, see Compatibility.


// crt_chdir.c
// arguments: C:\WINDOWS

/* This program uses the _chdir function to verify
   that a given directory exists. */

#include <direct.h>
#include <stdio.h>
#include <stdlib.h>
#include <errno.h>

int main( int argc, char *argv[] )
   if(_chdir( argv[1] ) )
      switch (errno)
      case ENOENT:
         printf( "Unable to locate the directory: %s\n", argv[1] );
      case EINVAL:
         printf( "Invalid buffer.\n");
         printf( "Unknown error.\n");
      system( "dir *.exe");
Volume in drive C has no label.
Volume Serial Number is 2018-08A1

Directory of c:\windows

08/29/2002  04:00 AM         1,004,032 explorer.exe
12/17/2002  04:43 PM            10,752 hh.exe
03/03/2003  09:24 AM            33,792 ieuninst.exe
10/29/1998  04:45 PM           306,688 IsUninst.exe
08/29/2002  04:00 AM            66,048 NOTEPAD.EXE
03/03/2003  09:24 AM            33,792 Q330994.exe
08/29/2002  04:00 AM           134,144 regedit.exe
02/28/2003  06:26 PM            46,352 setdebug.exe
08/29/2002  04:00 AM            15,360 TASKMAN.EXE
08/29/2002  04:00 AM            49,680 twunk_16.exe
08/29/2002  04:00 AM            25,600 twunk_32.exe
08/29/2002  04:00 AM           256,192 winhelp.exe
08/29/2002  04:00 AM           266,752 winhlp32.exe
              13 File(s)      2,249,184 bytes
               0 Dir(s)  67,326,029,824 bytes free

See also

Directory control
_mkdir, _wmkdir
_rmdir, _wrmdir
system, _wsystem